How often should you test your disaster recovery plan?

(c) Alphan

By Lily Teplow

As a savvy managed service provider (MSP), you know that having an effective backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution and disaster recovery (DR) plan is a necessity in today’s business landscape – just in case your client opens an umbrella indoors and their whole IT network crashes. However, having these reliable solutions in place is of no value if the processes aren’t regularly tested. So, the question is this: what do your clients’ DR plan look like and when was the last time they had a DR drill test performed?

Creating a disaster recovery plan is an essential part of the business continuity planning process, yet over half of DR plans are tested once a year or never at all. There’s more to simply developing the plan – it must also be regularly tested to ensure it will work in the event of an emergency. However, when it comes to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), they don’t always have the technical resources to do so.

As an MSP, you can help them avoid major data loss or business failure due to failed DR by packaging regular DR tests into your overall BDR offering. Not only will you be able to increase a client’s disaster readiness, you’ll also increase the reliability of your BDR solution and accelerate sales. But how can you convince clients and prospects that they need to partner with you to routinely test their DR plan? We’ve gathered data from CloudVelox’s State of Disaster Recovery Survey in the chart below for you to use in your next BDR sales meeting:

Infrequent testing of backup environments is putting businesses at substantial risk in the event of an outage or disaster. As you can see from the chart, 58% of respondents say they test their DR plan just once a year or less, while 33% of respondents say they test infrequently or never at all. Without adequate testing, a minor outage could become a serious headache, and a major disaster could prove catastrophic.

So what is holding these organisations back from more frequent DR testing? For most, the major reasons can be chalked up to lack of internal resources and process complexity. But this is where an experienced MSP can come in to help. Your clients and prospects can rely on you to test and work out any kinks in their DR plan and ensure a higher level of data protection. If they have any questions pertaining to the need for DR testing and your services, use the talking points below to convince them.

Why is DR testing important?

Despite all the talk about disaster recovery testing, most organisations still don’t do it enough. Without the testing and verification of DR plans, you’ll have no idea as to whether or not you’ll actually be able to recover from a disaster or extended outage. It’s during these testing periods that any security and backup issues can be identified and addressed because sometimes, extended downtime can be a life-or-death situation.

Rather than leaving it to chance, testing backups helps you ensure that all components of our BDR solution and process work harmoniously to provide you with the proactive data management, protection and business continuity you need to be successful.

How often should I have my DR plan tested?

Chances are the answer is “more often than you are testing now.” There truly isn’t one magic number, but the more DR testing you have done, the better prepared you’ll ultimately end up. As your MSP, we can undertake this testing for you to ensure that all backup and data protection processes are working correctly, and provide you with added peace of mind that you’ll be prepared for any disaster.

How can I improve my business’ DR preparedness?

The first step is to build a detailed disaster recovery plan. We can work together to help you determine specific procedures for your DR plan, such as setting Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) for critical applications. The next step is then to test the plan. Constant testing can set a cadence that your organization deems effective, while also allowing for improvements critical adjustments. The best solution for this is to form a strategic partnership with an MSP. As an experienced provider, we can offer assistance with DR testing while providing ongoing monitoring to ensure data is being regularly backed up and is always secure. With our help, you’ll be in a good position to stay fully protected in any situation that might come your way.

Does your BDR solution enable you to run frequent DR tests? Scaling for Success: The MSP Guide to Operational Efficiency, Continuum's new interactive eBook, examines the costs of “noisy” BDR technology and reactive service delivery, revealing a smarter, more reliable backup verification alternative. Download your copy here!

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3 Feb 2017, 10:03 p.m.

As often as possible, traditionally a DR test was associated with a high cost because they were done manually and require many resources to be involved.

Nowdays some vendors like Unitrends provide daily automated testing and recovery assurance in their product, so you do DR tests daily with any impact or cost and get daily reports of the RPO/RTO compliance result of the test. This kind of automation is critical to be sure you can recover on time when you are hit by a disaster or cibersecurity threat like ransomware.

Virtualization and cloud has make this automation and DR testing much more affordable and easy to do, so just testing once or twice a year is a thing of the past!


Alex Z
7 Mar 2018, 5:10 p.m.

Thanks for providing such a useful information and make us aware of the benefits of recovery plans. Now, I also believe to make effective disaster recovery plans otherwise it always end up with the data loss.